Dear Father in heaven, Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, bids us ask you in His name and promises You will give what we ask. We come before you today and ask your blessing on these young men and women. We do not ask for wealth or fame or long life or health – according to all that do as You will, gracious Father – but we ask now for nothing temporary, nothing that fades away with the using, but we are bold to pray for much greater things, for eternity, for an everlasting inheritance. For this your Son suffered the pangs of hell. For this you sent the Spirit to convince us by your Word. For this you have prepared these your children from before the world began. For your sake, for your glory, because of your love for your Son and for us, send your blessing on Emmet and Jonah and Elijah and Tristan and Lyzabeth and Khalie and Christine. Keep them Christians all their days. Protect them from all false teaching, from the temptations of the devil, from lust for money and pride and sinful pleasure. Give them perfect love for You that casts out fear, so that trusting in your Son, and staying true to His holy Church, they may live their lives in joy and peace, always looking forward to that great and blessed day when they see the glorious face of your dear Son and know You as they have been known. We ask in Jesus’ name. Give according to His merits and not our own. You smile on your Son. For His sake, smile on us and these our children today and grant them to remain faithful to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Dear friends in Christ, especially…
There are many things you should ask from your Father in heaven. You should ask so many things because He is your Father and He loves you very much. And you know He loves you because He has sent His Son for you. The Father loves His Son. Whatever love is, whatever can be called love in this world, your parents’ love for you, your parents’ love for each other, your love for your siblings or for your friends, it exists only because the Father loves His Son. This is love, the original love, the source of all love. The Father’s love for His Son. And the Father sent His Son whom He loves so much to suffer for you and buy you back from sin and death and separation from Him. And so there can be no doubt that He loves you beyond any love you could possibly find on this earth, loves you so fiercely that He was willing to hear His beloved Son cry out to Him, “Why have you forsaken Me,” and to answer in silence, “For their sake, My dear Son, for their sake I see you bleeding and mocked and in agony. For their sake I’ve turned my face against You, for their sake the Father must hear His Son cry out and not answer, for their sake the Father must see His Son suffer hell and not intervene.” This is the Father’s love for you. You know His Son. You know what His Son suffered for you. And you love Him for it. So love His Father who sent Him. And do not doubt that the Father loves you. Jesus says it, “The Father loves you because you have loved Me.”
So ask from your Father. Ask and ask and ask and He will give and give and give and you will receive. Be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Pray. You are Christians. Christians pray to their Father because they know Him and they know He will give. Compare this to looking in a mirror. A man looks intently into a mirror and then walks away and forgets what he looks like. Who cares? It doesn’t matter. You forget and go on your way. The Word of God is like a mirror, but it is a mirror that is constantly before you. You look into it and see who you are and how God sees you. And you must never walk away from it or you’ll forget who you are. You know, because I taught you, that we call God’s Law a mirror. You look into it and it shows you your sin, all the ugliness of your selfish desires and your foolish thinking and your evil words and deeds. You look at the Law, “Thou shalt not kill,” and it reveals the hate and anger in your heart. You look at the Law, “You shall not give false testimony,” and it reveals the sick desire to gossip about your enemies and even about your friends. You look at the Law, “You shall not covet,” and it exposes your discontent, your worry about money and the future. It shows you an ugly sinner.
But the Gospel is a different kind of mirror. You look into it and you see yourself, but it is not what it should be, not what you could expect if it only reflected back what you are in yourself. Because you have been clothed with Christ in your Baptism. Everything He has, given to you, just as surely as all your sin was on Him on that cross. A beautiful exchange. He gets sin and death and hell and swallows them up in His love. And you get perfection and beauty and sonship. You look into this mirror of the Gospel and you see who you are – a Christian, a son of God, perfect and righteous, ready to live life like it, ready to do and act as a son of God and an heir of heaven.
St. James calls it the perfect law of liberty, the perfect law of freedom, because when you look into it, it doesn’t bind you like the Law does, it doesn’t tell you you’re doomed to slave away under sin and be subject to death and meaninglessness. No it tells you the opposite. It sets Christ Himself before you and says, There is your righteousness, there is your life, there is your future, there is the Father’s love. There is freedom from death, freedom from guilt, freedom to live as God’s children here on earth and forever in heaven.
So pray because you look into the mirror of the Gospel and you see how much the Father loves you. And pray for everything you need. Ask in Jesus’ name and your Father will give it. You can ask for the things of this world, for health, for a Christian husband or wife, for a decent house and a decent living, and you can know your Father wants to give it, because you know your Father. You know Him as your Creator, but more than this, as the Father of His Son, your Brother. It is simply impossible for Him to not care about your body when the body of His Son stands before Him in heaven. Impossible when He places this same body into your mouths. Your Father cares about your body, and you know this far better than the heathen possibly could. It’s why you’ll pray and ask your Father to take care of your body and it’s why you’ll live and act like your body is precious, a temple of your Father’s Spirit. And when you pray for the things of the body you’ll learn to honor God in your body, because you know it’s been bought with a price.
But even the heathen seek after the things of the body – that’s what Jesus says. The heathen seek after health and wealth and food and drink and house and home and wife and children, and our heavenly Father gives even to them, even to those who reject His Son. How much more will He give these things to you who ask, His dear children asking their dear Father? So ask for them, pray to the Giver of all good things, and know that you are the rightful receiver of everything good from Him, because He is your Father and He loves you because you love His Son.
But you have much better things to ask for than the heathen. You have eternal things to ask for, things not subject to change, things that will not fade away with the using, things that cannot tempt you to sin or draw your heart away from your Father. The Israelites in the wilderness asked for bread and God gave it from heaven. They asked for water and God let it flow from a rock. They asked for meat and He sent them quail. But they asked like heathen; they asked only for stuff. And then they complained, because stuff will never satisfy. So God sent serpents to bite them. And only then did they learn to ask for better things, only then did they gaze intently at what God told them to gaze intently on and so were saved from death. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man has been lifted up. Gaze intently on Him. Don’t take your gaze away, all your life, and then you will always ask for the greatest things from your Father. The Israelites should have asked for things greater than water and meat and bread. They should have asked for God to give true joy in the coming Savior. There are greater things than food and clothing and such. So ask for the greater things. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Your Father wants your happiness. He wants it more than you do, more even than those who love you most in this world, more than your parents, more than anyone, because He loves you more. Jesus tells you to ask and you will receive so that your joy will be full. Your Father wants your joy, and He knows more than you and more than anyone what will give you the greatest joy. And it isn’t anything this world can give. It isn’t stuff. Ask for what you know your Father wants to give and He will make you happy beyond all the heathen. Remember He is your Father because He gave His beloved Son for you. He wants to give you not only food and drink, not only all the enjoyments of this life, but everything His Son has won for you. He will never deny it to you. For a time, He may deny you food or health, to teach you and to discipline you, but He will never deny you His Son. He has already given Him up to death for you. And this is His Son’s constant prayer as He stands in His Father’s presence still in human flesh, still your Brother, that all whom the Father gives Him He would keep faithful to the end, that they may be where the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit reign, that you may see Him finally in His glory.
So ask for forgiveness, and your Father will always give it; He’ll speak it and He’ll give you His Son’s body and blood as the guarantee. Ask for the Holy Spirit, ask for the power to resist temptation and to live life in obedience to the ten commandments, and your Father will give it, will strengthen you to stand and will lift you up when you fail. Ask for faithfulness, that God keep you a Christian, and your Father will not let anyone or anything snatch you from His hands. Ask for understanding, to learn more and more God’s Word, and the Father will give you wisdom that far surpasses any worldly education, give you eagerness to read His Word and to sing His praises and to be in His house. Ask Him for everlasting life, and your Father will show you that you have already begun to live it, that it started the day of your Baptism and will continue forever. Ask from your Father, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Today God answers my prayer again and every one of your parents’ prayers. We want wonderful things for all of you, long life, happy families, health. But there is nothing a Christian father or mother could want more for you, nothing that could more fulfil our joys or yours, no prayer more fervently asked, than what God gives today, what happens today, to hear you make the good confession of faith, and join us at this altar, and receive the body and blood of your Savior. God keep you faithful Christians. God answer your every prayer as He has answered ours today. God grant you to ask for the best things and you will receive and your joy will be full. Alleluia…